Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Met’s $3 Million Splurge on Perino del Vaga Goes on Display September 27

Last January the Metropolitan Museum set records at Sotheby’s two days in a row when it bought a drawing by Perino del Vaga (1501-1547) for more than $700,000 and a painting by the same artist for more than $2 million.  

Two million dollars, by the way, is the amount of the Met’s expected shortfall for fiscal year 2011 -- a shortfall, the museum’s chief spokesperson told reporter Lee Rosenbaum in June, that in part led to the Met’s increasing its recommended admission from $20 to $25.

Both works are finally going on display beginning September 27 in a small show devoted to Perino that will include drawings from the Morgan Library and private New York collections in addition to the Met’s own stash. 

Perino, hardly a household name, was a student of Raphael’s in Rome.  There are only a handful of panel paintings attributed to him. 

The Met’s painting, “The Holy Family with St. John the Baptist,” is a “newly discovered” work and has been described as atypical of the artist. 

Apparently, though, the museum had a lot of company in accepting either the attribution or the painting’s intrinsic worth.  Five buyers, one of which was reportedly the Louvre, bid it up from its $300,000 to $400,000 estimate.

The drawing is a study for a tapestry, the specialty of Met director Thomas Campbell. 

It’ll be a homecoming of sorts for the guest curator, Linda Wolk-Simon, who was formerly a curator at the Met and is now head of prints and drawings at the Morgan.

Frankly, when I saw the painting at Sotheby’s auction preview I wasn’t too impressed -- it looked like a dingy old thing.  Maybe we should be relieved that after cleaning and restoring it the Met did not announce it had discovered yet another Velazquez. 

Photos:  Top, pulled off the internet; bottom, from Sotheby's catalogue.

Text copyright 2011 Laura Gilbert